“Did you kick anyone out of class today, Stacey?”, I remember my Dad joking with me.
It was only this time last year.
I can’t believe how many things can change in such a short time.
When I think back to this time last year – I was worried about going back to school full time as that meant that Dad would be on his own.. well… somewhat. I spent so much time with him after Mom passed away – it was almost a full year. We grew a garden together last summer (on his patio) and decided what worked on his patio and what didn’t . The cucumbers, while fun to watch, did NOT work. The cherry tomatoes were a favorite of “Julius” and so we were going to grow cherry tomatoes again this year… The onions were okay – but no one ate them so they were out. There was just no garden this summer. And I think Dad knew that there was no point in planning one.
For years, I remember Dad planning his garden. He would anxiously await the arrival of his “Stokes Seed” magazine (at that time I thought I’d rather EAT dirt than read that magazine) so that he could choose the latest and greatest of upcoming vegetables. He’d plan for nights on end. Make a list. Order the seeds and then wait for their arrival – which meant that spring was on it’s way.
I could never understand how patient he was to await the first sign of a sprout so small that I thought he was totally nuts! But sure enough, those sprouts would turn into tomato plants, Brussel sprouts, and cucumbers.
The autumn harvest was always accompanied by the glow of orange, yellow, amber, red maple leaves. And I was always, always, always back to school. Dad would always, always, always be excited to hear about my students.
Working at the Learning Centre never disappointed him as I’d always have stories of triumph over adversity for him. The students I teach often come from very difficult circumstances and I always, always, always appreciate that they are managing these circumstances at the same time they are trying to graduate from high school.
Dad knew my students well. Every time I’d visit him – especially in September – he’d ask about the classes and what great things were happening. Dad knew that the students were challenging – and Dad knew that I loved my job. We’d have so many chats about how lucky we were in life. We were given so many blessings. Indeed. Our lives had never been challenged as much as so many of my students’ lives – in that we always had family to count on. Dad was my rock in the end. He knew he had to be. Mom was always the one getting involved in my student – stories. But when she was no longer there – Dad knew he had a responsibility to ask the questions and to be interested. I think he rather liked this new role.
This year, however, things are different.
I wonder how it will be to not report back to Mom or Dad about my first day at school?
How will it be for Ben, Katya, and David to not report back to Mom and Dad about their first days at school? There are so many wonderful things that they will encounter this year – and I know “Nanna and Poppa” would have been proud of them. There would have been a plethora of questions. How will my children feel about the absence of the oh so familiar sounding boards and cheer-leaders?
So much can change in one year –
So much has changed.
How can one respond to such change without reflection?
I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to learn from my parents all these years… that “wisdom is knowing what to say and not saying it.” . That, “if you don’t have anything good to say – don’t say anything at all.”
These two phrases are perhaps the greatest legacy and prophesy left to us by my parents.
Maybe this year – it is my turn to communicate these messages to my students?
Maybe this year – it is my turn to ask my children more questions about their school-days?
And maybe – just maybe – I’ll tell Mom and Dad about my first day at school anyhow….
Maybe things don’t really can change in such a short time, after-all?
Maybe they do.